Air India chairman writes to SBI showing interest in operating Jet Airways' 5 grounded Boeing 777s


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New Delhi:

A day after Jet Airways, the Mumbai-based Indian-international airline, announced temporary grounding of its operations, Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani on Thursday wrote a letter to the State Bank of India (SBI) chief showing interest in operating Jet's five wide-body Boeing 777 aircrafts. Jet Airways, which had a total of 10 Boeing 777 in its fleet, used to operate those for popular destinations in Europe and North America before halting the entire international operations.

Speaking to media, a source close to the aviation insdustry, told IANS, "Air India has expressed its interest to take some of the B777s on lease. The initial proposal is there". However, there is no confirmation from the SBI, the lead lender of Jet Airways, on the development so far.

The airfare on most of the foreign routes such as India-Gulf, India-UK and Mumbai-London witnessed a sudden surge ever since Jet Airways suspended its international operations earlier in the week. In the meantime, the tactical move by the Air India to deploy the additional capacity is considered to be an attempt to capture the traffic, catering the peak demand on those international routes.

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Last week, low-cost carrier SpiceJet also announced to induct 16 B737 into its fleet which were earlier operated by Jet Airways. The airline is in talks to take another six aircraft and operate them on domestic routes in near future.

After flying for 25 years, Jet Airways on Wednesday announced temporary grounding of operations after the lenders declined a Rs 400-crore lifeline, putting at stake 20,000 jobs and thousands of crores in passenger refunds, dues to vendors and over Rs 8,500 crore to banks.

Founded by Naresh Goyal, who began as a general sales agent to a host of international airlines with travel agency Jetair, the full-service carrier served tens of millions of passengers for over two-and-half decades, before becoming the seventh domestic carrier to shutter operations in the past five years.

(With inputs from agencies)

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